Workers at five Alcoa sites across Western Australia have voted down a sub-par offer from the company and agreed to continue their indefinite strike action.
Alcoa’s bauxite and alumina operations have been significantly affected by the strike that first began on August 9.
Negotiations for a new workplace agreement have been ongoing between the company and the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) for 18 months.
But, despite drawing global revenues in excess of $11 billion, the company has been trying to force the workers to accept below inflation pay rises and diminished conditions.
1600 Alcoa workers have pushed back at this blatant corporate greed and have staffed picket lines at the Alcoa sites 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Alcoa have threatened to terminate the existing workplace agreement if the workers refuse to accept reduced conditions. If this happened it would result in deep cuts to the workers’ wages due to them being pushed onto inferior award standards.
This attempt to bully the workers should be resisted and the strikers should be supported in their fight to maintain union wages and conditions. In particular they say they are fighting for job security, not just for themselves but for future generations.
While lots of support for the strikers has been forthcoming, much more can be done. A dispute like this should be a cause célèbre for the entire trade union movement.
Unless the company backs off, the Australian Council of Trade Unions should make Alcoa the poster boy of their ‘Change the Rules’ campaign.
The October 23 rally being organised in Victoria should be expanded to be a national day of stop-work action, with Alcoa sites and offices right around the country being targeted with pickets and protests.
By Anthony Main